Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

First post of the year – 2019

Time just flies! we are already in mid January. Several things are happening at the moment but the main one is the continued maintenance and refurbishment of our aviaries. We had a work experience student placement almost ten years ago – apart from having real time in learning about falconry and flying the birds at home and away at events he helped in the first refurbishment of the aviaries. I have a good look at what we did then recently and it was a big effort. Other parts need work now and so it is a slow process of working through the list.

All birds are flying well and now we are beginning to look ahead  to summer events – just hoping we do not have a late winter like last year which was just awful – the brilliant summer that followed was not along enough to extinguish the memory.

Anyhow I have been talking about medieval themed events today and with that thought I sign off with this lovely photograph.

 

Last post of the year.

Well we have had a good Christmas period with bookings and thankfully the weather has been great – not cold, a gentle breeze and dry – what more could one ask for! Of course ‘Bo’ the Eagle Owl is popular with guests because she is a friendly bird that will happily fly to people but I have to mention ‘Pete’ the Kestrel who has flown just brilliantly – vertical stoops and all.

I am hoping to fly him more at shows this year – which is a step up from small group work. He has done shows before but it is building up the confidence to fly him just about anywhere – he is fine on static display – which is great. The same I feel is for ‘Sprite’ our Peregrine – so right for Thornbury Castle and similar venues but I think flying at shows though more challenging is something we can aim for this year. I would like others to share in him – he is a wonderful falcon and has benefited from been flown all year round – much tamer – I have go to know him much better.

One of our favourite places is to be built on – new houses. The crops last summer were harvested early to allow for survey and archeological work to be done.  The crops of rape and spring barley have self seeded and grown on creating a wonderful habitat for wildlife. We have a large covey of wild pheasant that bred in the field – I have mentioned this previously but also many skylarks and I have flushed snipe, woodcock and partridge. So this window of time has proved excellent for wildlife and shows wildlife will readily colonise an area if conditions are right. I will sign off with a picture of madam in the field with the self seeded barley behind her,

Happy New Year to all and thanks for the bookings this past year.

December – hawk walking, dog walking.

Pottering on is the order of the day – I was up and about to take the dog for an early walk and then flew the birds down on the Knowle – I hawkwalked ‘Arizona’ our Harris Hawk – tree to tree along the brook.

It is technically called ‘following on’ and Harris Hawks do it better than any other bird – living with other harris hawks in groups of 6-8 individuals in the wild – the idea of cooperation of working together is natural to them. They adopt the falconer as part of the pack and where he goes they follow – forming a little hunting party if you like.

Later on in the afternoon after waking from dozing in front of the snooker I took madam out for her afternoon walk. A beautiful afternoon with plenty of wild pheasants to flush – nothing could be better!

Pete the Kestrel flying again and well – which is just great. Anyway I will leave with a picture of Arizona taken in the week – feeding off the fist while using my mobile to try to take a picture an another picture of Madam this afternoon on our walk.

Hunkering down.

It has been a difficult week weather wise – we have been grounded for the last three days although I did do a Harry Potter style party for a friend with ‘Bo ‘the Eagle Owl – apart from that I have been left with a feeling of frustration of not been able to get out.

I also put a tail bell and telemetry mount on a mates Harris Hawk. He took the opportunity to do it when the weather was poor so he would not lose a days flying. It is customary when a  bird is cast to give it a day off – feed it shortly afterwards – to get over the process and time to get used to the tail bell and mount. The bell is taken off before the moult which allows those feather to moult out and new ones to grow. At the beginning of the new season the whole process is repeated.

Tail bells are useful as a hawks have a habit of often shaking their tails from side to side when sitting – the bell rings and you know where the bird is – sitting in a tree for example or in cover. Often at rest hawks are motionless and the leg bells still . So they can be really useful. They can be put on falcons too – this is a more recent practice – as they do not move their tails in the same way as hawks and therefore just wore a leg bell or two.

Well my blog was interrupted last evening and the weather this morning has been bright and clear – the birds have all been flown and the whole process of daily flying has begun again – great.  I also have taken ‘Pete’the Kestrel from his loft – weighed him and fed him on the fist. He should be flying again in the next few days or so. He spends his down time in a loft even when flying but when his is moulting he is largely left alone and fed down a shoot.

Anyway here is picture of ‘Pete’ just taken this morning outside the hawkroom feeding on the fist. You can just see his smart new tail. We continue on.

November Update – lofts completed

Well as I mentioned the construction of our two new lofts is now completed and I have moved ‘Brian’ our lanneret into one of them. He seemed to appreciate the effort and promptly had a bath to celebrate! He can comfortably over winter there.

All birds are currently flying well – we had a busy period down at Thornbury Castle – thankfully the weather was dry with some welcome autumn sunshine and now we are beginning to look ahead at our Christmas schedule. I am hoping to get ‘Pete’ our Kestrel flying again soon. His moult is almost complete and having him back flying again will be great – he is a great addition adding variety to our display. He is also his big personality as I have described before.

Leah our older Lanner Falcon who will be 16 after Christmas is still a wonderful flier but lacks the stamina of her younger days – so we keep her flights shorter and fly her at home and Thornbury Castle which she knows so well. A kind of semi retirement if you like!

I leave you with a picture of her….

November update 2018

Well November is here and it is a lovely day – bright sunshine and not too cold. Have just come back from flying birds – huge number of buzzards around trying to soar. Falcons are not overly keen on them thankfully unlike my old falcon ‘Peggy’ none go chasing them – which is a dangerous activity.

We are about to get busy again – it is like this – this along with show enquiries for next year. Although we run a website with a very good google listing because of its provenance we still get many bookings through word of mouth – with is gratifying.

The refurbishment of the aviaries that I have been working on is completed – and soon I will move some birds in and start working on other elements of our mews or hawk quarters – it is a continual process but there is satisfaction in completion.

Anyway since I have had an enquiry for a medieval jousting event today I will sign off with a happy photograph…

Mid October update.

Well the aviary refurbishment continues – I am quite pleased by the way things have been progressing – but have encountered the familiar problem of where to stop!

The weather has been disappointing with 4 days of no flying due to high winds and then torrential rain – it is amazing how individual falcons can quickly lose fitness if not flown everyday – and once the good weather returns or at least flyable weather you have build them up slowly again.

It is great to be out again.

‘Sprite’ our peregrine flew his best ever yesterday and I felt we were close to losing him as he seemed almost wild. He flew with extreme pace as if something had spooked him.  I called him in with the ‘ho’ shout or guaranteed food shout and he caught the lure in fine style. The ‘sock’ lure I now use does have the advantage of been easy to catch and bind to – which is invaluable for  a nervous falcon. It was useful for ‘Sprite’ yesterday – it brought him to ground and although nervous he allowed me to pick him up.

I flew him again to today – no problem – thankfully!

Anyway here is a picture of him on the lure at the rugby club last week. 

October

October is here and the weather is warm and pleasant. The summer events have come to an end and over the weekend I took the static display out of the van  where  it is permanently throughout the season. The canvas weatherings made on my old industrial sewing machine are something that I am proud of – representing a distillation of numerous designs over the years. I modestly say I could not improve it in any way – they are lightweight, durable and most importantly functional protecting the birds from sun, wind and rain at events.

Apart from winter storage I wanted to clear the van to allow us to buy some materials to upgrade our lofting arrangements for the birds – which is now nearing completion and we plan further refurbishment for the aviaries  during the winter. The hawkroom is also practically finished.

I continue now to fly our winter team of birds for hotel and small group work and anything else that comes along. All are flying well.

I leave you with a picture of Madam on the knowle with her ball – she is a  personality – not all good! it was taken during the summer and due to the heat it would have been late in the day. It reminds me of that wonderful period just a few weeks ago.

 

 

 

September 14th – ‘Sprite’

We are just prepping for our weekend events but I took a photo of Sprite our Peregrine falcon this morning down on the Knowle. He is sitting on the lure – waiting to be picked up and fed on the fist. He is flying well but my lure swinging needs improvement! he is a lovely falcon quite different from a Lanner Falcon – our mainstay fliers. The Peregrine is compact, muscular – specialised bird catching raptor with long toes and actually a large head – a flying torpedo. Anyway here he is……..

September 4th – a wet start.

I have been meaning to update my news blog a couple of days ago – but time just flies! and here we are already into September. Weather has been fab again – until this morning – so it may be a feed round day. Later this week we are set to be busy again as we slowly adjust from display flying at summer events to our more all year round and intimate displays for groups of guests. Summer is not quite over yet so lets hang on to that.

We are beginning to refurbishment our aviaries which was last done a number of years ago – it is steady but slow progress as the birds have to removed for short periods to allow work to be done. This refurbishment or renewal extends also to the hawk room where we are replacing our large freezer – which requires the door and door frame to be removed to allow the new freezer in. Which is a real bind but necessary.

Anyhow lets stay sunny! and I am going to leave with a picture of a bee on our lavender plant – one of many who have visited and given us collectively hours of pleasure watching them – about 4 species we think.

Also a picture of ‘Pete’ our Kestrel down at the Knowle – having just caught the lure. His flying continues to improve and he is a feisty wonderful little falcon.